Sunday, July 27, 2008

What is With These Guys?

Joe Klein, from his lofty perch as a press god, has assured us that McCain is going to run an honorable campaign because he believes that McCain is "uncomfortable" with the generally dishonorable nature of politics and he thinks that McCain's campaign is going to be a reflection of the real McCain and not an amalgamation of rovian admin staff and their goals for power. Josh Marshall politely calls Klein on this fantasy--that McCain is in this race for policy, for example, and not for power--by pointing out that by any measure the campaign McCain is already running, in the present tense, is already dishonorable. Happy to get noticed, Klein argues that people who think the campaign is already occuring are wrong. It has yet to happen. And the things that we see every day are balanced, not schizophrenic. In a little blog post called "Its a Mixed Bag" Klein argues that it is still too early to figure out what kind of campaign a 72 year old career politician is waging:

McCain gives you something to admire and loathe almost every day. He did some terrific things this week on his anti-poverty tour: He gave a lovely tribute to Congressman John Lewis in Selma, he called out Bush's Hurricane Katrina non-performance in New Orleans. (Of course, he also voted against the Katrina relief funds.) The very fact that a Republican would take such a tour is significant--but his willingness to go into the muck on Hamas and Obama's "friendship"--or whatever it is--with the American terrorist Bill Ayres is gutter crap.

Most of us, looking at the things that Klein balances, wouldn't see any balance at all. Just because you put two things on either side of a scale doesn't make them equal. In fact, that's why we say "weighed and found wanting." How do you weigh "a lovely tribute to Congressman John Lewis" against an actual vote "against the Katrina relief funds?" It can be done, in the same way that you can weigh a cloud against an anvil. The scales don't balance. Why can't Klein admit that?

Furthermore, we are talking about the week that was, and not the weeks that might have been. Klein, apparently, has been dozing or else the blog post was written last week since the example he notes of "crap" is *Bill Ayres, the american terrorist* a bit of vomit from which the McCain camp itself has already moved on. The particular bits of dishonorable behavior that are on the table this week are barely noted. For example, McCain's entire shtick at this point can barely be comprehended as political and not personal. His policy prescriptions for the middle east have already been rejected by Bush, Obama, and Maliki rather publicly. All that is left, apparently, for McCain's presidential plans is an endless series of fake "radio addresses" (mp3 recordings that the campaign is releasing as radio addresses and hoping for free publicity. No doubt this was a clever choice after their wax tablets melted in transit) explaining that he was right about the surge. Oddly, the surge was supposed to be over sometime ago. The remaining troops in Iraq, now a higher number than before, must simply be called the occupation. But no doubt we must wait, like Joe Klein, for next week's radio address to find out how this is all supposed to come out. And if Obama won't fess up to having been wrong, John McCain will have to demonstrate his determination never to back down from an innuendo and will simply give the same address over and over again until he does. I hope someone explains to him that he can simply forward the same addres to the press and doesn't have to stop his campaign barnstorming to stand in front of the oversized mike again reading the same script.

If Klein can tell us what McCain's actual presidency would look like I'd be very surprised. Because as far as the McCain campaign is concerned McCain's presidential plans stop as soon as McCain's campaign has run out of Obama attack points. The main issue, as someone actually covering the news might have noticed, is that McCain's entire campaign consists of simply attempting to discredit Obama and the Democrats as patriots and even as respectable political actors. Nothing new here but Klein apparently *hasn't even noticed* that Mr. Hate's Politics and its compromises has eagerly embraced the most classic political strategy of all time: my opponent is an evil com simp terrorist gayboy.

Which is it? Is McCain an honorable man who recognizes that his opponents, the Democrats and Obama, also have a claim to being honorable citizens or not? It can't be that McCain believes that Obama's not being able to visit *some* troops on his visits overseas means that Obama doesn't respect, or wish well, to our troops. It can't be because you'd have to be insane to actually believe that and McCain isn't insane. Instead, he's just an dirty political fighter, in the mold of Nixon and Rove, who is willing to say anything to get over on the stupidest, angriest, least informed and most racist part of the electorate--Bush's base. But to Klein the question of who McCain is as a politician is still out:

So the jury's still out on what kind of campaign McCain runs. I hope my colleagues in the press will call him out everytime he succumbs to sludge tendencies. I certainly plan to do that.

I don't get it. If McCain isn't running his own campaign then who is? If he is running it, what about it would look different if the honorable John McCain--the one who isn't in a fantasy world in which he is the only patriotic public servant--was in charge? All of McCain's advertising and public appearances are about how evil Obama is as a person, and by extension how evil and deluded his Democratic supporters are. If that is thoughtful, honest, policy in Klein's eyes I'd hate to see what was dishonorable mud slinging. Oh, I'm sorry, "sludge tendencies" which are to campaign dirt what "dormative tendencies" are to sleep.